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Boise man charged with DUI after found unconscious behind the wheel

Is it a crime to pass out in the driver's seat of your vehicle while intoxicated or after using a controlled substance? It can be. Police recently found a Boise man unconscious behind the wheel of his truck and now he faces a felony Idaho DUI charge.

When the police opened the door of the truck to speak with the man, a pipe fell out. Later analysis showed that the pipe contained a drug called Spice, which is a synthetically formulated, highly concentrated form of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). The man failed field sobriety tests and had prior DUI convictions on his record.

He was arrested and faces several other charges, including a probation violation, and possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Actual physical control of a vehicle

Idaho law says that it is unlawful for an individual to "drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle" with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. It is also unlawful to be under the influence of any drug or combination of alcohol and drugs.

In the above case, it is unclear what caused the man to pass out, but the drug possession charge points to drug use. While the details of what occurred are minimal, there could be some questions about whether the man was in actual, physical control of the vehicle.

Actual, physical control broadens the statute to a certain extent beyond solely driving. The element is defined as "being in the driver's position of the motor vehicle with the motor running or with the motor vehicle moving."

In one Idaho case, a driver successfully challenged a DUI charge. While waiting for a ride home after a party, he had started his car and was waiting inside to stay warm. He argued that his vehicle had transmission problems and he could not drive it anywhere. The man had to tow his vehicle whenever he moved it.

The court found that if a vehicle could not be moved then it was not capable of being "controlled." While the defendant was in the driver's seat of his car with the motor running he could not go anywhere. While this situation may not be common, it does show how the outcome depends on a case-by-case analysis of the facts.

Idaho DUI laws are complex. If you are charged with a DUI, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can explain possible consequences of a conviction and provide advice on whether any defenses exist based on the facts of your case.

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